Are online maps ‘whitewashing’ the UK? Not in the hands of the news providers

Online maps are erasing the UK’s history and geography, according to the president of the British Cartographic Society.

Quoted in a BBC report, Mary Spence said internet maps, such as those provided by Google and Microsoft’s Multimap, are missing out ‘crucial data’ on local landmarks and history.

It’s not all bad news online, however: mash ups like the Open Street Map are leading the retaliation against this ‘corporate blankwash’, Spence says.

The rising popularity of interactive maps amongst news organisations – whether its the Hartlepool Mail’s Plot the Grots and Plot the Pots campaigns or the BBC’s recent Beijing Olympics map – could be the next step in the fightback.

First off, they serve up information to the reader in a digestible and filterable way. What is more, while these examples might not highlight cultural hotspots, they endow the humble online map with a living and breathing sense of the geography they chart.

With the potential to personalise the data plotted on these maps to a street-by-street level – as Adrian Holovaty’s Everyblock project allows – internet mapping in the hands of news organisations should only get richer.

Leave a Reply